Medford woman concerned over possible lead-related health problems

Medford, Ore. — The Medford Water Commission is continuing to replace lead piping in older neighborhoods in west Medford. A couple living in an affected neighborhood is speaking out, scared about the possible health risks from their water, and demanding action be taken to protect the public, as they consider taking legal action.

“We’ve been even giving our dog bottled water,” Kathy Randle said. “Even keeping bottles of water in the bathroom to brush teeth with.”

Randle and her husband Steven Van Pelt don’t use their sinks very often anymore. They’ve lived in their west Medford house since early 2014, but just a couple of weeks ago, they received this letter from the Medford Water Commission, advising them a lead pigtail pipe had been replaced in their neighborhood.

“We’re just really scared, it is not just happening in certain neighborhoods, it’s happening all around in this area, and nobody’s been doing anything about it,” Randle said.

Randle tells NBC5 News her health has taken a turn for the worst in the last year, she’s been suffering from kidney problems..

“My kidney levels have just been going down, down, down,” Randle said.

She says other neighbors are having kidney problems and other health issues. A neighbor who lives across the street tells NBC5 News he did not receive the letter from the Medford Water Commission. That’s because, according to the MWC, his home has not been affected by any lead pipes. While he declined to go on camera, he confirmed he too has been having kidney problems for the last year.

“We’re close-knit, we know just about everybody on the block, it just hasn’t, hasn’t been good health for anybody,” Randle said.

While she hasn’t tested her water for lead, Randle fears lead pipes nearby are playing a role. Doctors say that’s not far off.

“It’s possible, if she’s continually being exposed to the lead, absolutely.” Dr. Robin Miller said.

Dr. Miller is not Randle’s doctor and can’t speak to her personal health, but she says it’s very difficult to say whether or not possible lead in her water is even partly to blame for Randle’s kidney troubles. Kidneys are one of the areas most affected by heavy lead exposure.

“When it’s a short term exposure, it’s unlikely that it will cause long term problems, but there are certain people who are at risk,” Dr. Miller said.

Despite that uncertainty, Randle wants answers on why she didn’t find out about this sooner.

“These people aren’t taking responsibility for what they’ve done. and they’re going to,” Randle said.

Randle says she’s looking to hire an attorney, to file a class action lawsuit against the Medford Water Commission.

This article has been corrected to include information from the Medford Water Commission.

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